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Foot and Mouth: Poll shows mistaken beliefs about rural risks.

Byline: Wayne Veysey

There is still a lack of public confidence in the countryside despite a hard-hitting campaign by the Government and the tourism industry, new research revealed today.

Most people believe the countryside is still open for business but feel they should stay away from any part of Britain affected by foot and mouth.

English Tourism Council, which carried out the survey of 1,000 UK residents, said it needed to correct false ideas about the disease.

Its research found that some of the messages promoted recently were starting to be reflected in the public's own beliefs.

Some 78 per cent agree that 'there is still plenty for tourists to do in the countryside'.

And three-quarters (75 per cent) agree that 'there is no problem visiting the countryside provided that you keep away from farm animals'.

Less than half of those surveyed (46 per cent) believe that 'most places in the countryside are closed at the moment'.

But some of the public's feelings about the countryside were less positive.

More than two-thirds (69 per cent) agree that 'you can't go for walks in the countryside because most of the footpaths are closed'.

And 52 per cent believe that 'you could not enjoy going to the countryside because you could see the destruction and disposal of animals'.

A spokesman for the ETC said: 'The challenge for the tourism industry will be to correct misconceptions and, in particular, to increase the number of short-break or long holidays, which involve a higher spend per head than day trips and will play a key role in re-establishing income to rural areas from tourism.'
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 14, 2001
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